Mysteries of the Amberwoad Vale
The Delafer family has been with the Sadanas since they built the bloomery, and nobody remembers when they came to Two Rivers before that. They’d been blacksmiths when the city was saturated with blacksmiths, and their patriarch wisely signed on with the ironworks the moment it opened.
Gavner Delafer’s father was a floor manager when Sabin Sadana was given control of the bloomery. Those days were rougher for Gavner. His father ensured that he worked at least one shift a day at the bloomery, but a floor manager’s work is never done, which left Gavner with plenty of extra time to get into trouble. He ran with the roughest gangs in the low quarter, and stole far better coin than he made by honest means. The bloomery was an annoying divergence, a chore.
That was until the Mad Son came, of course. Sabin soon “promoted” his foreman, sending him to the ironworks proper, and Gavner’s father soon found himself, against all propriety, named foreman instead. Sporadically at first, Gavner found himself working extra shifts at the bloomery – at first because his father begged him for help, and then out of curiosity. Soon, his time at the slag-works began to outweigh his time on the streets.
Sabin had strange ways – offensively so – and Gavner’s rebellious streak was tickled to watch the Mad Son work. He spent time on the floor and got soot on his finery, and he meticulously weeded out the old guard and favored good workers in their stead. And for the first time ever, it paid better to work than to rob. Soon, a goodly number of Gavner’s old gang held steady work at the bloomery.
When things got heavy, they did so in a hurry. The first thing was when he got the wheeler girl pregnant. He married her because he cared, a few months before his eldest was born, and both events were costly. Then his father fell ill, and that was costlier still. He worked as much as he was able, but the streets were calling again, offering that little bit he seemed perpetually short of.
And then the Mad Son swooped in again, dumped money on his father calling it “retirement,” and offered Gavner the position of foreman.
Everything the nutter did was inspired, everything he touched turned to gold. Gavner and everybody else in the low quarter saw the storm clouds on the horizon – the metaphorical ones poised atop the waterfalls and the high quarter above – but things were so good that he refused to pay attention. They all did, he supposed, and maybe if they’d paid more attention they could have warned their benefactor. Sabin was the only one that never had a clue.
When the Sadana’s black sheep disappeared, things got rough again – rougher than they’d been before. Gavner had made a fool of himself by then, though. The streets were too far away for him now: he had mouths to feed, and he’d be damned before his boys ended up in orphan gangs or his girls in brothels or worse.
So he did what his family had done since the beginning: he made himself useful to Old Man Sadana.
When the riots started, he ignored the call in his blood. He shuttered his windows and locked his door, and he rode the wave of chaos. When the rumors started at the bloomery coming from on high, he paid attention to what the Old Man seemed to want, and he facilitated it. Nobody remembers, but he was the one to board up that old inn, and he was the one that fired the idealists when they wouldn’t shut up about the Mad Son. He protected his boys as best he could – he owed Sabin that much – but when a man got dumb and stuck his neck out too far, well…
Gavner is a survivor.
But the guilt still gnaws at him and he, too, remembers that brief taste of prosperity – the kind that didn’t come with chains attached.